Draw Close to God and He will Draw Closer to You!
by Rhonda Jones
This past year I have become increasingly interested in world events as they relate to the end times. Although only God know the exact day and hour of his return, He tells us to watch the signs, to pray, and to prepare. Whether the end times or tribulation begins next week or five or 10 years from now, many believe we will see it in our lifetime. As a result, I believe Christians must prepare mentally, physically and spiritually. This has led me to closely examine my own heart.
As I look closely at myself and my relationship with God, some questions quickly surface. These include: “Is my heart and life completely to surrendered to God? Am I about my Father’s business or my own? What are the true motivations of my heart? Am I being led by the Holy Spirit? Is my time, attention, and devotion to God or something else? Am I trying to serve both God and money? Is God’s power operating in my life or has my salt lost it’s my saltiness? Am I trusting God like I should?”
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. “(Matt. 5:13)
The times we live in today also seem very similar to the events that lead up the children of Israel being delivered from Egypt Before the exodus, Moses continued to ask Pharaoh to let the people go so they could worship God in the desert. But instead of letting the people go, Pharaoh made life tougher for them to get their minds off of God and onto their life and circumstances. Don’t you feel like that today? So much to do but so little time? Doesn’t life seem like it’s quickly spinning out of control? I feel there are heavy weights, burdens, and distractions all designed to keep us too busy to spend time with God, the very thing we need most!
I also see a correlation between God’s deliverance and the plagues that are a part of the exodus story. These events appear parallel to what will happen in the last days. We know from the scriptures that there will be much destruction upon the earth. Jesus said there will be earthquakes in diverse places, nations will rise against nations and kingdoms against kingdom. There will be signs in the sky (perhaps the blood moons and solar eclipses), floods, and famines.
Whether you believe in pre, mid, or post-tribulation, I am sure you would agree that the world is fundamentally changing and each day seems to get more bizarre than the last. I believe God is bringing many things to light, but too many believers are fast asleep or to preoccupied to notice. To shed some perspective on this meditate on the following verses:
“Be ‘in’ the world, but not ‘of’ the world.”
“If we have hope in this world only, we are men most miserable.”
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
Honestly, I’m not trying to stay here any longer than I have to. The fact that I might soon be in eternity with the Lord is very exciting to me. As I see these signs approaching, there is a stirring in my heart to get ready, and to prepare for this culminating event for which we were all created. However, I know from the parable of the 10 virgins that not all of them were ready for the bridegroom. As you know from the story, 5 virgin’s lamps were filled with oil and 5 were not. From one interpretation I read, the oil represents the Holy Spirit. Yes, they might of all called themselves Christians, but only 5 of the virgins had the Spirit of God living in them. Romans 8:16 declares, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” I believe God is looking for His Spirit living on the inside of his children.
As a Christian, do you ever feel like you or even the church has lost its power, it’s annointing? I do. The Bible says, “Not by power, not by might, but by HIS Spirit,” says the Lord of host. In Matthew, we are told that God is the vine and we are the branches and without Him (Christ) we can do nothing of any spiritual good. For me, instead of fearing the last days, I want to be ready to be used by God in a mighty way but that is going to take preparation and making sure I have “oil” in my lamp. I am not going to increase my oil (God’s Spirit) by focusing on the cares of this life. My level of oil will be in direct proportion to the time I spend with God, seek after Him, surrender to the Holy Spirit, and devour his Word. God’s pours out to those to are thirsty for Him. The Bible says, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.”
As in years past, I want to walk in the divine power of the Holy Spirit, to pray for the sick, and win people to the Lord. I have noticed as the world has grown colder and darker, my heart has also become duller. I am often afraid to pray openingly for people or even share the gospel for fear of being laughed at or rejected. I am sure I am not alone. Many people’s hearts have waxed cold to the gospel. They outright reject it. Part of this is due to the media and hate mongers who have hijacked the Christian faith, but more importantly non-believers don’t see the love and Spirit of God manifested in the life of most Christians. They don’t experience God’s power living through us. Without God’s power we are ineffective.
As you examined your own heart, are you worshiping God with your lips, but your heart is far from Him? By far from Him I mean you are not as connected to Him as you need to be or maybe you are relying too much on yourself and leaning to your understanding? Have you become too comfortable, too complacent in your walk with God? Have you been taking Jesus for granted? Are you seeking the creation instead of the creator? Has the great commission become pursing about your own needs and desire and not the saving and discipleship of lost souls?
As I always say, awareness is the first step to change. Therefore, I am making a purposeful shift in my walk with God. I am going back to basics, back to prayer, back to the Word, back to spend more time dwelling in His presence, and back on my knees. This shift also means to seek the Lord for all that I need and desire and to trust Him even more.
In the times to come, if we are not permeating in God’s love and power, I just don’t see how we are going to make it. The Bible says that in the last days, “men’s hearts will faint with fear.” Christians will not be immune to this fear but I believe God’s annointing will pour out on those who have drawn closer to Him.
David said in Psalms, “Lord take not your Holy Spirit from me.” Without God’s Spirit, living and moving in our being, we are just Christian corpses, alive but spiritually dead inside.
Watch and Pray
As we enter into these unpredictable times, I want to encourage all Christians to watch, pray, and prepare. Jesus said in Mark 13:23,
“So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.”
Then Mark 13: 32-37,
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert ! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
“Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’?”
If you feel that your lamp may be lacking some oil (God’s Spirit) and you want to get back to basics, this message and prayer is for you. Jesus doesn’t want us to have one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom of God.
In Revelations 3: 14, Jesus said, to the church of Laodicea write…“I know your works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you from MY mouth!
For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of our nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes that you may see.”
I truly believe that the Laodicea church characterizes the culture found in many American churches today. Many believe that because they are blessed financially that God’s favor is on them. Yet, God says we are wretched and poor. We are seeking the wrong things. God does bless his children, but I see in God’s Word, much higher ideals material gain. But Praise God, He gives us a remedy, to return back to Him and make Him our first Love again.
You May Know Jesus, But Does Jesus Know YOU?
Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23,“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
I believe many people will stand before God and hear these word, but how could this be? Ephesians 5:27 says that when Jesus returns, that he is looking for a church without spot or wrinkle. It may sound as if God is looking for perfection, but that is not so. What God is looking for is a purified heart that is surrendered to Him.
2 Corinthian 7:1 tells us to purify our hearts and minds from everything that contaminates, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. Jesus said if we judge ourselves we will not have to be judged (1 Corinthians 11:31). It is up to us to examine our heart (1 Corinthians 11:28 ) and to repent and turn away from anything that stands in the way of our devotion and our relationship with Christ.
1 John 3:20 says if our heart does not condemn us we have confidence before God. God sent the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin so that we can repent and turn from evil. It is through the confession of sin that we purify our hearts and regain our right standing with God.
John 1: 9 declares, But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and will purge us from all our evil.
Due to the demands of life and the deceitfullness of sin, many Christians have turned from their first love. Their affection and zeal for Christ has grown dull. They have allowed the world’s system to stain their robes of righteousness.
Today is the appointed time, today is the day of salvation. I believe God is telling us to get ready. To watch and pray and to purify ourselves of everything that darkens and defiles our Spirit.
10 Wise and Foolish Versions
It is time to prepare ourselves for the bridegrooms return. As I stated above, Matthew 25 tells us, “that the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. Those who were foolish, when they took their lamps, took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, “Behold! The bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!” Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise answered, saying, “What if there isn’t enough for us and you? You go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.” While they went away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins also came, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us.” But he answered, “Most certainly I tell you, I don’t know you.” Watch therefore, for you don’t know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”
The sign of the times show that the day of the Lord is surely approaching. This will be a glorious day for those who are anticipating and sincerely waiting his coming. But the big question remains, are you really ready? Is your house or temple clean or are there rooms that still need to be swept out.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 declares, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
And Revelations 21: 8 restates it again, But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
This message is not an attempt to scare you but to give you an opportunity to get your heart right before God. This is no time to play it safe. You’re very life and where you will spend eternity depends upon the condition of your life and your heart. You may be a born-again believer, but is that alone enough to secure your place in heaven? Are we once saved, always saved or is God requiring more? Where we spend eternity is at stake so we should not take this lightly.
What About Unforgiveness?
Is there unforgiveness in your heart? Matthew 6: 14-15 declares, For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Ask yourself, do I harbor hate or ill-will against others? If you do, God says, forgive and let it go! Pray this prayer as often as you like to cleanse your mind and break the ties of sin in your life.
As an act of faith, use the rest of this prayer to I let go of, denounce, and purify your heart of anything that does not promote the truth of God and his love, joy, and peace. God through the power of the Holy Spirit is here to help you. He says ask and it will be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be open.